Monday, 19 June 2017

Charity Night with Belinda Carlisle - The High Field

It is very exciting to hear that two things I enjoy very much – The High Field Birmingham and 80’s music are collaborating for a charity extravaganza!

Photo:  c/o The High Field

On Saturday 15th July 2017, The High Field will be hosting a very special evening in aid of charity when Belinda Carlisle, one of the biggest selling female global artists of all time, makes a one-off appearance at the Edgbaston venue.

This exclusive event, which is limited to just 250 guests, will feature a short acoustic set of songs from Belinda as well as drinks and dinner in a glorious garden setting. It will raise money for Belinda's own co-founded charity ‘Animal People Alliance’ and the UK Charity Branch of ‘Her Future’.

Tickets for this special event are now on sale and include fizz and canapés on arrival, followed by a three course vegetarian or vegan dinner with a menu created for the night by The High Field's head chef Ian Meek.

After enjoying good food and drink in the stylish surroundings of The High Field, which was named the Best Gastro Pub in Birmingham at the inaugural Birmingham Food Drink & Hospitality Awards, guests will enjoy a short acoustic performance of Belinda’s songs. 

There will also be a silent auction with some brilliant prizes to be won, special guests and even the opportunity to win breakfast with Belinda herself at a secret location the next morning.

Photo:  c/o The High Field

All the proceeds from ticket sales will be given to the two charities close to Belinda’s heart to support the vital work they undertake. Animal People Alliance's mission is to offer high quality care to street animals in need, alongside robust employment opportunities to survivors of human rights abuses and other vulnerable populations in South Asia. Her Future UK provides shelter, education and high-wage employment to survivors of human trafficking and extreme abuse so that they may remain forever free; since 2005, the charity has helped thousands of women and children to build a bright and independent future.

Photo:  c/o The High Field

Launching the evening, Sarah Robinson, General Manager of The High Field, says, "This is a fantastic opportunity to support these two amazing charities whilst enjoying good food and drink in a unique venue.

"We are thrilled to be joined by Belinda Carlisle and to have this unmissable opportunity to listen to her music in such an intimate setting," says Sarah. "As lead singer of the Go-Go's and one of the world's biggest selling female artists, she is a true pop icon, and we are honoured that she will be performing here in support of these two great charities.

"It's going to be a wonderful evening full of excitement and surprises, and we hope that as many existing and new guests will join us to help raise as much money as possible for charity," she says.

Photo:  c/o The High Field

Belinda Carlisle, says, “Animal People Alliance is a charity, based in Kolkata India, I co-founded with Paul Suit in 2014. Whilst still in the early days, we are starting to have a real impact, with our mission to provide quality care for India’s street animals, employment for survivors of human rights abuses and other vulnerable populations. We want to change the future generation's consciousness towards animals, and raise awareness of the need to treat animals humanely.

"I’ve always dreamed of having an animal sanctuary and I have such a love of India. I had an idea on how great it would be to combine both with the invaluable help of Her Future, of which I’ve seen first-hand the work they do, and I’m humbled even to be in the same room as Sarah Symons (the co-founder of Her Future Coalition and inspiration of Her Future UK), as she does the work of angels.

"I’m absolutely thrilled to be part of the charity evening at The High Field, and grateful to all the generous people and businesses who are making this event happen. I will be performing a short acoustic set of my hits as music is still a big part of my life, as is Animal People Alliance,” she says.

There are just 100 tickets for this special evening costing £150 each, to include fizz and canapés followed by a three-course vegetarian or vegan meal, and a further 150 tickets at £75 each for those not wishing to dine, with a silent auction and some amazing raffle prices from sponsors.

To book, please email event@animalpeoplealliance.co.uk to request tickets.

The charity evening at The High Field with Belinda Carlisle takes place on Saturday 15th July 2017 from 5pm until midnight.

The High Field is at 22 Highfield Road, Edgbaston, B15 3DP. Tel: 0121 227 7068.
www.highfieldedgbaston.co.uk/ Highfield@peachpubs.com @_TheHighField www.facebook.com/TheHighFieldEdgbaston



Saturday, 17 June 2017

Breakfast in Budapest

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways


Looking back at some old photos, its triggered memories of my visit to Budapest in Hungary last year.  Packed with Eastern European charm, famous for goulash, paprika and thermal baths, it's small as capital cities go, but there is a lovely, easy, calm energy wherever you turn - perfect for a long weekend.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
Hotel-wise, I have to whole-heartedly recommend Bohem Art Hotel.  Its location is ideal - right next to the underground station, by the Danube river, round the corner from Vaci Utca (the main road for shops/restaurants) - I could go on.....  Its contemporary decor with huge pieces of artwork on every corridor and in every bedroom makes it a very stylish place to stay.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
Decor and location benefits to one side, what I really want to wax lyrical about is the breakfast.  NB:  **Info valid at the time of visit - April 2016**.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
The all-you-can-eat buffet (including various types of non-dairy milk) not only offered vegetarian options but also vegan and gluten free food with other dietary requirements potentially being catered for upon request.  Hot food, fruits, continental style items, all washed down with 'champagne' style sparkles.  What a glorious way to start the day!

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
This post is short but sweet, but the fact that I've still got memories of the breakfasts there surely are testimony of how enjoyable and plentiful they were.......... 


Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Deposit Secures Your Table

I’ve known Alex Claridge almost as long as I’ve been blogging, so since 2012 I’ve been following his work and projects around Birmingham and I’ve watched him move from one challenge to another.

The Wilderness Interior
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

A lovely guy whose passion for food, service and creativity are second to none and you won’t see lame penne pasta in tomato sauce or mushroom risotto on his menu anywhere. 

His ethos is to push boundaries and to bring tastes together that you’d never think of combining.  To give you a work of art that is visibly clear has taken hours to make, that has been nurtured to give you a real food experience and something far, far away from an average Tuesday-night-TV-dinner.

Going the extra mile, he goes foraging for seasonal herbs and sources ingredients from remote places (sea buckthorn anyone?).  For instance, tomatoes are marinated for 24 hours, strained for 24 hours and the juice of which is then used to make a meringue.  This is the effort he goes to, the man has the patience of a saint to bring it all together.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

This is why you pay good money to eat at his venue The Wilderness.  Everything is thought through, every minor allergy, dislike, food intolerance request is factored in (if notice is given) to make the diner a bespoke version of the planned menu.   Vegetarians are given a culinary rollercoaster of taste and texture, something you don’t get in an average establishment.

Bearing all of the above in mind, so why is it that have people been grumbling about his new policy of providing a deposit upon booking?


The Wilderness Interior
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways


I’m angry for him that he’s had issues with this.  He’s not in the league of the large High Street chain outlets where you can arrive as you please and a lot of the food is all pre-done for future consumption so waste isn’t a primary issue.  Instead, he’s a small, independent business where 2 or more no-shows per night makes a real impact not only on a financial level, but all the hard work in putting the menus together are wasted and it also denies someone a table that wanted to get in but couldn’t.  And he does have waiting lists.

I’m not the only one who thinks this way, fellow blogger Laura from Full to the Brum even appeared on local TV news discussing this supporting Alex’s stance.  She makes a good point, if you have to pay deposits at restaurants on occasions such as Mother’s Day or Christmas, then what’s the problem in doing so all the time?

So if you’re one of those who feels put out by paying a deposit, all I’d say is, don’t cut your nose off to spite your face and respect his deposit policy to secure your booking as I truly mean this, you won’t want to miss out on his menu creations.  We often say, our visit to The Wilderness (and also when we visited his venture Nomad) was one of the best meals we’ve ever had.  And the best things are worth paying for.


~~

Information

This is an extract from The Wilderness’s Vegetarian Menu from last summer.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
Chapter One
The Shoreline – Evening to Dusk
A Coastal Breeze (Pea, Cucumber, Hazelnut, Potato)
Under Embers (Roast Cauliflower, Salted Grapes, Oyster Leaf)



Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Chapter Two
The Forest & The Fields
Celeriac, Leftovers & Weeds (Celeriac, Egg Yolk, Herb Oil, Cheese Biegnet)
The Forest & The Field (Pearl Barley, egg yolk, Forest Herbs inc: white flowers, stone fruit)



Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Chapter Three
The Picnic 2009
The Flowers Got To the Tart First (Cheddar Tart, Many Flowers from the Allotment)
Jammy Dodgers
Oh B*llocks (99 Flake, Strawberry, Meadowsweet)


Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Monday, 15 May 2017

Bardolino Birmingham

Yesterday, I had a very nice little lunch with two of my closest friends at Bardolino’s in Birmingham.  Based in The Cube by The Mailbox, it is part of Marco Pierre White’s chain and is more informal than some of his other offerings.  In fact it’s used by the guests of The Cube’s spa facility so there were plenty of people in white robes dotted around, so don’t worry about feeling under-dressed.

We went there for lunch, rather tempted by the £6.95 offer which includes a pizza or a dish from the Al Forno section of the menu and a soft drink.  In addition, jugs of chilled water were brought out as standard which I was pleased to see.

Opting for a Wild Mushroom Lasagne myself, it came with a good amount of wild mushrooms and they had that nice ‘chewy’ texture you get from them as opposed to that from standard field mushrooms, so a rustic twist on a classic.  My friends both had the Salmon Cannelloni which they said was also good.

We ordered a side dish each, however these came late and without asking, our waitress took them off our bill as an apology, which was fair of her.

In fact, Laura (our waitress) was really attentive and delivered a high level of customer service which we appreciated.  Customer service is just as important as the food itself and either factor can make or break your dining experience.

Sorry, but no photos as we were too busy gossiping, but to put you in the picture:  the restaurant has a clean, airy feel about it, lots of white tiles, mosaic slates on the floor, views of the canal, framed Italian kitsch posters and of course obligatory photos of Mr White himself as is standard across all of his venues. 

The lunch offer was extremely good value, so definitely worth popping in for that and again, another round of applause for the customer service we received.  People often talk about the bad service they have and not so much about the good service, so I’m bucking the trend here.  All in all, good to see a chain restaurant that offers the personal touch.

~~


**We paid for our food and I did not disclose that I was a food blogger**

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Gluten Free Veggie Crisps

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

I find it’s a dangerous game opening a bag of sharing crisps.  Because they go.  Open the bag, fail to stop at having ‘one or two’ and before you know it, they’ve gone.  The larger the bag, the larger the temptation – for me anyway.

But it seems I’m not alone.  New in the sharing crisp category are Seabrook’s premium Lattice range and as I found, having them makes you fall into the trap as above – they are somewhat addictively moreish.  Offering a bag to friends, they commented how easy they were to polish off and did so within a car journey.   I watched my mother who insisted that a couple of crisps would be enough for her to try, to then see her dismay when the packet was empty.  This is what I mean by a dangerous game – it’s hard to stop.

But unlike my mother and I, for those with a tad more willpower, the packet comes with a peel & seal facility on the front, it can be closed off quite easily if you only (really, literally) just want a handful of crisps.

The lattice shape gives it texture and each crisp is quite thick which gives them substance and flavours in the range include Natural Sea Salt, Sea Salt & Black Pepper and Cheese & Onion, all of which are enjoyable.

Additional benefits is that they boast natural ingredients, are vegetarian friendly and are also gluten free, thus giving those that are observing a GF dietary lifestyle a chance to have a snack which suits them and yet doesn’t compromise on taste.


With #GlutenFreevolution Week in-situ (8 May – 14 May) and ahead of British Sandwich Week (14 May – 20 May), (and who doesn’t like a sandwich with crisps?), Seabrook’s Lattice Range are worth a try and also, they are really good for the Saturday night ‘beer munchies’ – for which I can vouch.


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Disclosure:  This review was conducted following receipt of complementary samples of Seabrook Lattice Gluten Free crisps.  The review was conducted honestly without bias. For further information about reviews, please see the Disclosure tab on this website.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Mountain Berries & Desert Spice





I absolutely loved Sumayya Usmani’s first book – Summers Under The Tamarind Tree with its introduction to Pakistani food and culture brought to life by stunning imagery, anecdotes, memories and family stories. 

Sumayya has continued her culinary journey capturing a wider geographical base but niching it to all things sweet and dessert led with her new book published by Frances Lincoln:  Mountain Berries & Desert Spice – Sweet Inspiration from the Hunza Valley to the Arabian Sea.

The book is split into chapters denoting region and/or celebration type.  Woven in are descriptions of Pakistani food whose origins stem from a cultural melting pot influenced by migration, the multi-national borders it shares and the remnants from nomadic tradesfolk of the Silk Road route.  As such, Pakistan yields a sweeping cornucopia of ingredients ranging from the traits of sweetness of goods from the north to the spicy tones of the south, all of which are reflected in some shape or form within the book.

The introduction to each chapter captures one’s imagination with beautiful flowing storytelling and photographs that illustrate landscapes and markets which subsequently bring to life the recipes that follow on.

Sweets/desserts in Pakistani culture play a paramount role forming the basis of gift-giving, wedding feasting and general socialising.  These eventualities feature in the book with suggestions for each ranging from informal caramels and ‘fruit leathers’ to more intricate desserts that use deluxe, exotic ingredients, although some of the items listed will need to be sourced from specialist shops or suppliers to gain an authentic taste. 

Spiced & Floral Truffles
Image:  Joanna Yee:  Courtesy of Frances Lincoln
 
With so many Asian restaurants now providing culinary spicy twists on traditional English Afternoon Tea, the ideas within Mountain Berries & Desert Spice will give scope and ideas to replicate a Pakistani afternoon tea in the realms of your own kitchen.  

Again, Sumayya’s passion for cooking coupled with her desire to keep her heritage alive is so strongly evident throughout and her ability to creatively showcase the diversity of sweet/dessert types, makes Mountain Berries & Desert Spice an absolute pleasure to read.

~~

 
Food Roots Interview with Sumayya Usmani
 

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Disclosure:    This post has been written following a complementary copy of Mountain Berries & Desert Spice.  This review was conducted honestly without bias and I was not required to produce a positive review.  For further details of my PR policy, please see the Press, PR & Food Writing page of this website.  
 




 

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Put St George's Day on the Calendar

It is one of my bugbears that St George's Day here in England isn't celebrated with the gusto that it should be.

My article for Express & Star explores why and suggests that we should make it an occasion to be proud of, even if it is just making a meal packed with English ingredients.

Take a look, see if you agree and Happy St George's Day to you all!


http://www.expressandstar.com/opinion/trusted-voices/anna-rose/2017/04/21/putting-st-georges-day-on-the-calendar/

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Supercharge Breakfast with Manuka Honey


My BFF Sonia is endeared with the fact I have a 'weekend' breakfast cereal.  Whilst Monday-Friday is a quick, easy, practically put together affair, at the weekends, I like to put something together that's a bit more of a showpiece that I can enjoy leisurely and in peace.

When Holland& Barrett asked me to take part in their Supercharge campaign, I knew it would fit into my daily/weekly schedule and equally into my weekend cereal routine very well.

Supercharge promotes enhancing your daily routine by making small and easy changes to the things you do every day with the use of Holland & Barrett products.  Adding items such as Manuka Honey or Spirulina into your meals can prove that the little things can make a big difference nutritionally.  

 

Taking the example of using Manuka honey in porridge, I made my porridge firstly by using low fat Greek yoghurt with a smattering of Manuka honey and then I left it overnight in the fridge to absorb fully.

Next morning, I added summer fruits to the centre and circled the edge of the bowl with quartered baby fresh figs.  I then dotted the figs with a little more Manuka honey to bring extra sweetness to the fruit.

My porridge ensemble left me feeling full, boosted by the thick consistency of the yoghurt, the textured fruit and the sweetness of the Manuka honey. 

Manuka honey has a more solid form and an authentic sweetness rather than some of the more economical honey available.

So why Manuka honey and not standard honey?  Elizabeth Wall, nutritionist at Holland & Barrett explains that it is a natural alternative to sugar.   Manuka honey is made by bees gathering nectar from the Manuka bush, found in parts of New Zealand.  Manuka honey contains different active constituents which have been shown to have anti-bacterial effects. It is also widely thought to have immune system boosting effects, anti-viral effects, anti-fungal effects has been linked to promoting digestive health.   Manuka honey is a natural alternative to refined sugar that makes a tasty addition to tea, toast, cakes and bakes and even adds a natural sweetness to snacks, sides and smoothies.  And for a healthy breakfast option and natural sweetness, Manuka honey on porridge is a superb pairing.

My Manuka Honey Porridge recipe can be scaled back to its basic form of porridge/yoghurt/Manuka honey for busy weekdays and dressed up with fringes of fruit for elongated weekend mornings.

 
 
Manuka Honey Porridge
 

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
 

50g Porridge Oats
2 tbls Summer Fruits
2 tbls Greek Yoghurt
2-3 Baby Fresh Figs
1-2 tsps Manuka Honey

 

*  Place the porridge oats in a bowl and swirl in the Greek yoghurt and half of the Manuka Honey.

*  Cover the bowl and leave it overnight in the fridge to absorb.

*  Next morning, uncover the porridge, add the summer fruits to the centre.

*  Cut the figs into quarters and place around the edge.

*  Drizzle a little more Manuka Honey around the fruit.

*  Ready to eat!

 

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Information:  For more information about Manuka honey and the Supercharge campaign, visit Holland & Barrett’s website.  #superchargeit
 


 

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Disclosure:  This review was conducted following receipt of a complementary sample of Manuka Honey from Holland & Barrett.  The review was conducted honestly without bias. For further information about reviews, please see the Disclosure tab on this website.

 

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Lunch at Leon Restaurant

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Leon Restaurants.  Somewhat a popular outlet in many a London borough and it made its way up to Birmingham at the end 2015 as part of the restaurant ensemble for the re-vamped Birmingham New Street station.
 
Photo:  A Kobic

It’s funny as I’d not really had Leon on my radar before and then all of a sudden Leon was everywhere I went!  I spied them in London when on my travels (bizarre how I hadn’t noticed before) and I even clocked one of their cook books on the bookshelf of the set of The Saturday Show on Channel 5 with Gaby Roslin.    Leon was all around me.
 
Photo:  A Kobic

So what is Leon?  Now with over 45 stores, it was set up in 2004 by John Vincent, Henry Dimbleby and chef Allegra McEvedy, their mission was to make it easier for everyone to eat well.  The menu is inspired by the flavours, variety and natural healthiness of Mediterranean cooking.  Their families have Mediterranean roots, so it was a natural fit to weave that into their business ethos.
 
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
 
Having received a vintage style postcard inviting me to try out their wares, myself and friend Adela headed off to sample the menu.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Must do a shout-out here: Adela writes Beau’s Breeches – a fabulous blog for bookworms everywhere and those that like a little social commentary, please do take a peek.
 
Photo:  A Kobic

Now do be mindful, there are two entrances to Leon within Grand Central/Birmingham New Street station, one which is for people that have come especially to dine there ‘off the street’ so to speak and the other one, is for those who have gone through the ticket barrier and are ‘train side/Grand Central side’ of the station.    We did spend a few minutes perplexed how to get in, so bear this in mind when you visit.


Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
 
Upon entry, the colourful Moorish floor slates adorn the threshold whilst modern white tiled walls are all around you with hints of Mediterranean and Latino décor breaking up the stark whiteness. 
Photo:  A Kobic
 
Occasional bookcases are packed with Leon’s literary merchandise (a la the cook books as seen on The Saturday Show).  It’s fresh, vibrant and vintage without trying too hard to be. 
 
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Leon adopts a ‘fast food’ discipline so the food was presented in boxes with disposable cutlery on trays making it suitable to dine in the restaurant itself or it bears the versatility to take it away.  Very much a canteen style of dining, we enjoyed the informality of it and the fact we were just being left to eat our order in peace rather than having the constant waiter/ess service.
I had: Sweet Potato Falafel Vegetable Mezze, fries with Tarragon Mayo and a Clean Green Shake.

Adela also had the fries with Tarragon mayo, Clean Green Shake but she had a Chicken Quinoa Salad.
 
Photo:  A Kobic

Although Adela anticipated hot chicken rather than chilled, it didn’t deter her enjoyment of it and it had a good, almost smoked flavour.  A varied dish which was given a fruity element c/o the pomegranate seeds.
 
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
 
My mezze had variety with a mixture of textures and was filling, the hint of tarragon in the mayo gave a cool, herby contrast to the fries.
 
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

The Clean Green Shakes made us feel like we were ‘being good’ by counterbalancing the fries we were eating.  The shakes consist of a mix of avocado, spinach, apples, ginger, lemon and pear juice and consistency-wise, an equilibrium between smoothie and shake.
 
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

There were many vegetarian options on offer which made a nice change and it was a joy to have a number things to choose from instead of the usual one or two token items. 
 
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

The ‘meal deal’ offers are good value and with a variety of sides and drinks to choose from, it offers that pick ‘n’ mix element which is even better when there are more than one of you as, for example, as you can share different side orders.
 
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Adela felt Leon was almost like a Mediterranean Pret a Manger and I can kind of see what she meant as they have a similar stance of providing good food quickly.

Photo:  c/o Leon Website
 
We came away enjoying our experience at Leon and I would definitely go back when I’m in need of a quick, healthy meal whether that be here in Birmingham or elsewhere.  It’s in an ideal location for commuters who can buy and then go with a healthy meal in hand.  In fact, I’ve even recommended it to my work colleagues when they’re working away and are in search of good food with a quick turnaround - Leon can certainly do that.

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Disclosure:    This post has been written following a kind invitation from Leon Restaurants to sample their meal deal.  This review was conducted honestly without bias and I was not required to produce a positive review.  For further details of my PR policy, please see the Press, PR & Food Writing page of this website.  **Our visit was a year ago, so all food descriptions are as of the 2016 menu.**.